Several readers have informed me of a rare botanical event happening in Basel, Switzerland. You should go immediately to have a gander at a very rare—and ephemeral—flower shown on a webcam at the University of Basel.
It’s an Amorphophallus titanum from Sumatra, loosely translated as “giant misshapen penis,” a concupiscent but accurate descriptor. Isn’t it lovely?
This species has the world’s tallest flower structure, reaching up to 3 meters. It flowers only very rarely, though, so this event in Switzerland is a must-see.
Unfortunately, like the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia arnoldii, it smells like a decaying corpse. That’s to attract flies and beetles which, thinking it’s a dead mammal, come to feed—and pollinate it as a byproduct.
The flower remains open for only a day or two, though it takes several weeks to grow. The Basel site gives time-lapse photographs, showing the flower beginning to appear at the end of March.
You can see other pictures of a 2009 bloom here, from which these pictures were taken.